I didn’t make it out there on the single-busiest shopping day of the year, “Black Friday,” as it’s called, but rode the bike around Winrock Mall last Saturday between rides on the Inaugural Day for Albuquerque Rapid Transit. I wanted to see how crowded the 950-space underground parking lot adjacent to Winrock would be.
As you may recall, Saturday was a chilly, blustery day very conducive to parking in the significantly warmer, windless conditions down in the garage. Here’s a show video pan of what it was like down there right around Noon on the day after “Black Friday”:
For those of you smart enough to not click on videos, especially ones that look upside-down (sorry about that), here are two still shots:
I’ve not found the exact cost paid to manufacture this cavernously unused car storage facility, only finding estimates of $20,000 per space ($19 million total), and this February 2019 Journal story outlining the construction and how it has been funded:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Much of the infrastructure that has been developed at Winrock Town Center is financed by taxes generated there.
Winrock’s Tax Increment Development Districts, known as TIDDs, were formed by the city in 2008.
“The purpose of the districts is to allow certain gross receipts and property tax revenues generated within the districts to be used to finance public infrastructure projects,” Johnny Chandler, a spokesman for the city’s Municipal Development Department, said in an email.
To date, one of Winrock’s two TIDDs has issued $43,325,000 in gross receipts tax revenue bonds, primarily to finance a public parking garage, he said. (blogger emphasis)
The resolution forming the Winrock TIDDs estimates the districts could finance as much as $136,588,692 in infrastructure.
Darin Sand, vice president for development at Goodman Reality, said part of the first $43 million also went to building roads and the infrastructure that is underneath those roads.
“We are able to issue bonds based on the amount of money the TIDD receives,” Sand said. “The bonds are then paid back by the gross receipt tax generated by Winrock’s tenants.”
Sand said there is no financial liability on the city, county or state with a TIDD. That responsibility, instead, falls on the bondholders.
“So those who buy bonds such as this take the complete risk if Winrock’s tenants don’t generate enough GRT,” he said. “However, we’ve never been in that situation since the TIDDs’ inception. We’ve been making all the payments on the bonds.”
So no exact price for the almost eerily empty car storage cavern, but significant mention in the story that taxpayers shouldn’t worry about how much the utterly unused facility costs, because businesses in the mall will pay for it through their gross receipt taxes.
Of course, wouldn’t those gross receipts taxes otherwise go to governmental services for the citizens of New Mexico, instead of paying for this big hole in the ground filled with precisely nine cars on the second busiest shopping day of the year?
Yeah, I think those $43 million dollars (not including interest) would be going to services for you and me that we might actually use. I hear tell there are plenty of problems desperately short on funding (e.g., homelessness, behavioral health) that could sure use $43 million dollars more than we need to blow it on some big, empty concrete hole in the ground.
Also of interest, it just so happens that above-ground car storage was hugely more than adequate as well this past Saturday at Noon, AND a new expansion of above-ground parking is just about finished near the 16-plex movie house, about the only Winrock tenant with more than 20 cars temporarily stored in front of it.
While Albuquerque Rapid Transit has been lambasted to the point of bogeyman status for many, many things, cost very much included, nearly nobody is ever gonna complain about $43 million going to pay for a big hole in the ground instead of going to actually useful taxpayer services.
Duh! This is America, goddammit! We’ve got the “Sound of Freedom” for all those government jets noisily zooming overhead. Well, the Winrock Underground Parking Garage (WUPG) is truly the “Cave of Car Freedom.”
By the way, it’s also a great place to zoom around in on a bicycle, especially on a chilly, blustery day. Acres of space and you can turn the concrete support beams into a slalom course. Maybe we could host some cycling crit and other races out there to pay off some of those $43 or so million dollars.